The Keeper's Hive Demaree Method For Swarm Control Prevent Swarming Honey Production Benefits Beginner Backyard Beekeeping Beehive

Options for Preventing Swarming: Splits And The Demaree Method

Preventing Swarming: A Beekeeper's Guide

Welcome to the exciting world of preventing swarming in your bee colonies! As a beekeeper, understanding swarming season and knowing how to avoid it is crucial for successful beekeeping. Let's explore some key insights and strategies.

Understanding Swarming Season

Swarming season typically kicks off a few weeks before the peak nectar flow in the spring, with the first swarms in our area emerging as early as April. By the beginning of summer, swarming season typically comes to a close. Swarming is nature's way for bees to reproduce and establish new colonies.

Reasons to Prevent Swarming

There are several compelling reasons to prevent swarming in your bee colonies:

  1. Neighborly Considerations: Swarms might choose your neighbors' roofs as their new home, which could lead to unwanted issues and expenses.
  2. Honey Production: Swarmed colonies tend to produce less honey, affecting your harvest.
  3. Requeening Challenges: Sometimes, the original colony fails to requeen successfully after swarming, potentially leading to colony loss.

Swarm Prevention Strategies

To prevent swarming, you'll want to ensure that your bees have ample space for storing nectar, and the queen has enough room to lay eggs. This necessitates weekly inspections and manipulations of the brood nest starting in April. Additionally, every beekeeper should have a swarm box in a tree to capture any swarms that cannot be prevented.

Various Approaches to Swarm Prevention

There are numerous methods for preventing swarming, and each beekeeper may have their preferred approach. The most effective way to minimize swarming tendencies is to split the colony, reducing congestion and providing room for the queen to lay.

1. Split to Create a New Colony:

Take five frames containing food, brood, the queen, and some bees out of the mother colony and place them into a nuc box. Make that you don't forget to transfer the original queen. The mother colony will now raise a new queen. This split mimics what would normally happen during a swarm. Congratulations, you now have an additional colony!

2. Split Without Creating a New Colony (Vertical Split - Demaree Method):

Remove four frames of brood from the brood chamber and place them into the exchange box. Push the remaining frames with brood under the queen excluder and insert four new frames or frames with drawn comb into the brood chamber. You may want to monitor for emergency queen cells in the exchange box in about a week. This vertical split within a hive is referred to as the Demaree Method of swarm control.

Our Approach:

We employ two to three vertical splits for swarm control: one in mid-April and the others two to three weeks later through the end of May. 

Emergency Swarm Cells:

If you find swarm cells when inspecting the brood chamber due to a lapse in swarm management, it's best to locate the queen and remove her from the hive along with two frames of capped brood and two frames of nectar/pollen to create a split. Remove all but the two largest swarm cells remaining in the Datto Hive frames. This essentially simulates a swarm without losing the original queen.

The Keeper's Hive Advantage:

Seven years ago, my vision for The Keeper's Hive was to simplify the Demaree swarm procedure. I wanted to design a hive that would enable beekeepers to find the queen without removing all the heavy supers. Easier and effective practices are more likely to be followed. If you learn how to manage bees in The Keeper's Hive, your bees will be less prone to swarm. Some have even suggested calling it the "swarm stopper."

Using The Keeper's Hive:

If you choose to use The Keeper's Hive, you'll find that swarm management becomes straightforward. It all boils down to one decision: to create a new colony or not.

Happy beekeeping, and may your colonies thrive!


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